Some journalists in Abia have recounted how they were “slapped and our phones smashed” on Tuesday by soldiers of the Nigerian army at the state’s Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat.
The soldiers had invaded the NUJ office in Umuahia, the state capital, during an operation in the area.
The journalists said about 20 soldiers, who were on a “show of force,” invaded the NUJ hall and manhandled two journalists, destroying their working tools in the process.
Bonny Okoro(pictured), one of the affected journalists and the state correspondent of The Oracle Today, said he and other journalists at the press centre gathered at the windows and balcony of the two-storey building, to catch a glimpse of the troops driving in a convoy toward Bende Road in the city.
“While I was peeping through the window, I noticed that two trucks suddenly stopped around the tower, while no fewer than 20 armed men jumped out and headed for our office,” he said.
“Before we knew what was happening, they had invaded the NUJ hall, accosted me and demanded to have my cell phone.
“I told them that I did not have my handset on me. One of them gave me a slap, seized my bag, from where he took out my Samsung tablet and smashed it on the ground.
“Another one also stamped his booth on the screen, while another hit the nozzle of his rifle on it, smashing it beyond repairs.”
Sunny Nwakanma, correspondent of Daily Times who was also affected, said his handset was destroyed by the soldiers.
He said they accosted him as he retreated from the balcony into the hall, “grabbed my handset and smashed it”.
John Emejor, chairman of the state council of NUJ, described the attack as “a desecration of the hallowed chambers of journalists in the state”.
He said the attack was “unprovoked” and that “it is unheard of that journalist who are rendering selfless service to humanity and the nation, including the military, should be a target for military attack”.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian army has expressed regrets over the reported attack,
Oyegoke Gbadamosi, spokesman of the 14 brigade, Nigerian army, Ohafia, told NAN that he was shocked to hear of the military invasion.